Finally, a Clearer Picture of the Chaotic Shootout in Watertown Emerges

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There's a lot we still don't know about what happened in Boston last week. But new details that surfaced on Wednesday night reveal some key details that stand to change the timeline of the final 24 hours of the manhunt dramatically. Among other revelations, police are now saying that they don't believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers suspected of carrying out the attack, was armed when they opened fire on him Friday evening. In fact, authorities admit that the two brothers didn't quite have the small arsenal of weapons they thought they did — just one gun, a gun that wasn't anywhere near Dzhokhar when he was found in the boat after a shootout.

Much of the new information revealed by authorities is revealed in an ambitious and valuable New York Times story that appears on the front page of the paper Thursday morning, a story that took no less than ten people to put together. In a dependable narrative fashion, the Grey Lady guides us through the instantly chaotic and still confusing events of last Thursday evening, starting with the cold-blooded killing of MIT police officer Sean A. Collier, who was mourned in Cambridge this Wednesday. Law enforcement believes that the Tsarnaev brothers tried and failed to steal Collier's gun after shooting him from behind, the first of several things that went wrong for the two young suspected terrorists that night. 

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From there, the two carjacked the Mercedes SUV and split up for some reason before ending up in Watertown, where the real action unfolded. Long story short, the latest details raise a few red flags — no, those are not the same as false flags — about authorities' handling of the situation. Why, for instance, was there a shootout between the police and Dzhokhar if the suspect didn't even end up having a gun? Elementary-school crime-solving skills would suggest that police did not know the 19-year-old was unarmed, but an actual investigation will provide a clearer picture of that period of time.

But that's not all. Aside from the new details about the shootout, it was also revealed on Wednesday night that the Tsarnaev brothers used a remote control to detonate the bombs on Marathon Monday.  According to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, it was the same kind of remote control used for remote control cars. And according to CBS News, it was bought with drug money. We already knew that Dzhokhar was a pothead and potential dealer, but the latest reports suggest that Tamerlan got in on the action, too. This leads to the natural conclusion that the bombing, somehow, was funded by their drug money. But honestly, it's very tough to tell how they got the money they spent on the bombs.

Inevitably, Thursday night's news dump is refreshing. It's been a long ten days, a week-and-a-half of swatting at misinformation and conspiracy theories, and a hell of a challenge to peace-loving people everywhere. Because as we start to make sense of what drove these two young men to commit such a heinous act, we realize how many things don't make sense. And some of them never will make sense. We're not talking about the Alex Jones-type of fear-fudging, the suggesting that this was some big cover up. We've been over that, and it's a waste of time. The fact of the matter is that this was a chaotic event, a random act of violence and ultimately an act of terrorism. We'll gain more clarity about how the actual events played out, the type of clarity that the Times's front page story for Thurdsay offers. But the "why"? That's still the hard part.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.